First Steps in Christ with Bert Allen
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For printable PDF version, STEP1–Salvation
SALVATION BY FAITH
New life in Jesus Christ begins with faith and continues for eternity. In this initial step, we will explore key concepts that help you understand your salvation. Because God loves the world, He sent Jesus Christ, His Son, to die for your sins. We can always count upon the love of God and His great compassion for us. The Bible reveals the truth of God to us and we can completely rely upon everything it tells us.[color-box]“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” │ John 3:16, Page 1658 [/color-box] Notice in this passage that God loves people and saves them from perishing. Listen to the clear message. God gave His Son, Jesus Christ, so that I would not perish. I must believe that God gave His Son for me, or I will perish. If I believe, then I will have eternal life. Let us go through these concepts one by one. [color-box] “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” │ Romans 3:23, Page 1762 [/color-box]
According to the Bible, everyone has sinned. Let this concept sink in for a minute. Not only you, but all of your family, friends, and everyone you know have sinned. All of the people you care most about, including yourself, suffer from sin. Sin means that you fall short of the glory of God. You have done things that shame you, or things that you know do not please God. Consider the ten commandments. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever coveted anything? Have you ever dishonored your mother or father by the things you did or said? If you answer yes to anyone of those questions, then you are a sinner. Now let us see what the Bible says about the impact of sin.
[color-box]“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” │ Romans 6:23, Page 1766 [/color-box]
Sin has a tremendous consequence: death. Sin spiritually separates you from God’s blessings forever, and condemns you to eternal suffering. When you die in your sins, you receive the punishment your sins deserve. People often make fun of hell, but God describes a lake of fire that burns forever as the place where unbelievers will be condemned for eternity.
Thankfully, God has a plan to take care of your sin. In order for God to remain just, He must do justice regarding your sin. Justice requires the death penalty for all sinners, just like the verse above said: “the wages of sin is death . . . .” Because we are sinners, our death would only be justice. We sin so we should die. But now God’s love enters the picture. Because He loves me, God decided He would pay the penalty of death for me. You see, Jesus did not die for His own sins, because He never sinned, not even once. Jesus died for my sins, and God laid the penalty of my sins upon Him. In other words, Jesus took my place on that cross where He died. God accepted the death of Jesus as if I had died. Jesus died so that I might go free from the penalty of death. Jesus told His disciples to spread that good news all over the world so that everyone would hear that Jesus died in the place of sinners. He paid the price for all of our sins.
I once knew a man named “Ace.” He liked to wear black leather, and sometime wore even a black leather hat. He was not very big, and often wore his gray beard for a few days at a time. He lived outside most of the time. One day I told him about Jesus dying for him. He thought about it for a few minutes, and then said: “Well, I have never done anything so bad that someone would have to die for anything I have done.” You see, Ace did not understand that the verse above means that just one sin requires the penalty of death. And all of us have done more than just one sin. We are sinners by nature and practice.
[color-box] “But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then,having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” │ Romans 5:8-9, Page 1764 [/color-box]
God demonstrated His love even though we are sinners. Many people think they have to make themselves good before God will accept them. But this verse teaches us the truth that God loves us while we were still sinners. Christ died for us. His blood has justified us. Justification means that God takes away our sin by faith and calls us perfect before Him. We no longer rely upon self-improvement, but rather we trust that Christ paid the debt for our sins. God accepts the death payment of Christ as if I had made that payment myself. Our faith brings God’s justification through the blood of Jesus. Up until now, you have only heard about the plan of salvation.
I often use the illustration of the keys in my pocket. Perhaps you have some keys handy and can look at them. I then tell my friend that I want to make a gift of my car to him. ( I let them know it is just an illustration–o.k.). I hold up the keys, and ask him when he would get the gift. He knows that until he reaches out and takes the keys, he will not be driving that car anywhere. I liken the keys to receiving the gift of salvation from God. You may already know all the facts mentioned above. Until you reach out by faith and take the keys, you are just looking at the keys. You have never received the gift of eternal life, just like others have never reached out and taken the keys.
One day I explained the Gospel to my friend “Mike.” He gladly reached our for the keys and prayed to receive Christ. A few days later, I asked “Ace” a question about why Jesus should let Ace into his heaven. Mike was sitting next to me and interrupted: “Don’t ask him that question. I know the answer. I believe Jesus died for my sins.” Mike was so happy about his new faith that he could not wait to let others know. But in this case, each of us must make a decision about those keys. Will you reach out in faith and accept the gift from Jesus? Will you believe that He died for you, and He will forgive you because He died for you? Right now, you are either holding the gift by faith or still staring at the keys. You must make that decision right now. Merely postponing it will be a decision to reject. Right now, accept the forgiveness Jesus offers you and receive Him as Lord of your life because He died for you, and loves you completely, just as you are right now. Grab the keys by faith right now. Here is how you too can receive the keys to eternal life.
“. . . if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” │ Romans 10:9-10, Page 1772 [/color-box]
God offers you the gift of eternal life, but you must receive that gift by faith. We accept the gift by reaching out, just like taking the keys out of my hand. Reach out to God by faith and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for you, and rose from the dead, to live forever as your Lord. With your heart you believe, and with your mouth, you confess Christ as your Lord, resulting in righteousness. If you believe in your heart, then you can pray the following prayer.[color-box]
The Prayer of Peace with God │ Lord Jesus, I believe you died for me. I accept your gift of forgiveness. Please come into my life and be my Lord forever. Thank you for loving me. Amen. [/color-box]
Jesus promised that He would bring peace to every one of His children. He offers His own peace which removes fear from our lives and comforts troubled hearts.[color-box]
The Truth of Peace │ “Peace I leave with you; My peace I giveto you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” │ John 14:27, Page 1685 [/color-box]
If you have received the gift, please let me know. You can send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will rejoice together in your new faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.